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7 Tips from the Pros to Host a Memorable Backyard Party

By Sarah Finazzo May 22, 2023

backyard party space with chairs, grill, fire pit, dining table and lounge area

No matter the size of your backyard, there are certain ways you can take advantage of your space as a host to make your guests more comfortable and create the best party atmosphere possible.

Some points are obvious, but others are more subtle like setting the mood with lighting or creating multiple gathering spaces for guests to easily mingle and relax.

Whether you're planning a lively summer soirée, a casual get-together with friends, or a special celebration for a milestone event, your backyard can hold the key to an extraordinary experience. From planning and preparation to creating the perfect atmosphere, let's dig into tips to transform your house into the perfect event space!

how to make your own backyard party for your guests
Tilly plan that has multiple entertaining areas for hosting

#1 // The Importance of Your Layout for Your Outdoor Party

The layout of your yard is important. First thing, it's important to create a seamless indoor and outdoor connection. You want to avoid guests feeling like they are at a crowded bar and ensure they can flow freely from the outdoors to the indoors without any bottlenecks or awkward furniture obstacles in sight. Think of it as a magical dance, where your fabulous French doors swing open to welcome the traffic and there's enough room to easily exit and not run into outdoor furniture, tables with lemonade or food, or an awkwardly placed umbrella.

Therefore, keep the pathways clear and wide and remove any potential obstacles for party guests, like planters or outdoor toys that may usually be stored right at an exit. Remember to leave enough passing room behind couches and chairs or under a stand up umbrella.

a large backyard that can use a side yard for an outdoor party

#2 // Multiple Seating Areas

Don't feel like you have to set up your outdoor event as you usually arrange your space. Adjust the layout to the size of your party and its purpose.

For example, having an evening get together with the neighbors? Create intimate spaces to encourage guests to rest and chat. Perhaps add a bar area near the grill, maybe a bocce set in the back corner, and a sprinkling of club chairs for more seating areas a. By curating your layout, you'll create a space that adapts to the needs of your guests. And having different seating options helps with the flow of a party and makes it easier to entertain big groups.

You can also creatively make different seating areas with natural dividers and creating little "outdoor rooms." This can be done as simply as delineating a space with planters or establishing an area with an outdoor rug.

a fire nook next to a lounge area in a yard with Adirondack chairs

#3 // Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting serves as a crucial element that can elevate your backyard party from ordinary to extraordinary. Consider fixed or temporary lighting to extend the life of the party! Exterior lighting creates a great ambiance and is really important for safety. 

Think about lighting your pathways, stairs and gates. Light any obstacles in your yard that your guests should be aware of.

On the fun side, you'll be surprised what some string lights can do for the mood and atmosphere of the party. Or consider uplighting a beautiful specimen tree that blooms every spring to make it part of the party decor!

When the sun goes down, outdoor lighting extends the duration of your party by illuminating the space. It allows you and your guests to continue the festivities well into the evening safely.

a family friendly backyard with a pergola, dinner table, and string light

#4 // Fun & Cozy Decor

Fun decor always adds to a party! A beautiful outdoor rug, bright pillows, a stunning grouping of planters, a specimen tree or a bubbling water feature is a great addition for an entertaining space!

We also love fire pits to extend both the seasonality and the length of the party - there are endless fire pit options that can fit any style, budget or backyard.

Planters with flowers can also add to the coziness factor. Make sure your pots have a drainage hole at the bottom and then you can frame entryways, patio corners, steps, and more with pops of color or your favorite flowers.

backyard patio with multiple areas for a grill master, drinks at night, and a lawn for kids

#5 // Smart Food & Bar Organization

Same with the furniture layout, having a bottleneck at the bar or buffet is no fun. Have the bar centrally located so it’s easy for people to access and make sure there is enough room for a few people to be there at a time. To spread guests out you can put coolers of different types of drinks in different areas of your yard. Consider having multiple foot stations or help your friends organize how the buffet line for food starts!

a large yard for an outdoor party with a big lawn, pool house and grill area

#6 // Great Shade Options

Make sure you have shade available for an outdoor party. Shade is key to being comfortable when gathering outside. If you lack shade from trees, invest in something to provide shade. A beautiful cantilever umbrella can really make a statement. A bold navy umbrella can be a beautiful contrast against white hydrangeas. Think of how your umbrella, an important piece of your yard, can work with and compliment your design versus blending into the background.

A retractable awning is another great and more permanent option that doesn't take up any room on the ground. This is an investment but will provide great shade and can be well worth it if you use your outdoor space frequently. We also love shade sails, which are a semi permanent addition and can be hung above a patio, deck, or lawn space. Another great option is a pergola, which can be costly however it can also be a statement piece which you can enjoy for years to come.

an umbrella to make an inviting lounge space for people to gather

#7 // Host with the Most

Depending on the type of party you are hosting, there are other items to consider:

Extra Supplies

Having items like bug spray around can be a must to keep guests comfortable in the summer.

If you are having a pool party, consider having extra of things people may forget - such as towels and sunscreen.

Consider the Weather

If your party extends into the evening or you're hosting during colder months, consider providing outdoor heating sources like patio heaters or cozy blankets to keep your guests warm and comfortable.

Alternatively, if it's the summer and there's potential for sweltering heat, keep your guests cool by setting up fans or misting systems. And... not to harp on it... but shade!

A Solid Playlist

A carefully curated playlist has the power to elevate your backyard party to new heights of enjoyment. The right music sets the tone, creates energy, and keeps the atmosphere alive throughout the event. Songs can evoke nostalgia, spark conversation, and even inspire impromptu dance-offs. A good playlist becomes the heartbeat of your party, so spend some time getting it right!

Have Fun with the Food

Don't be afraid to embrace a theme. A summer July fourth party? How about some red white and blue drinks and popsicles. Try a s'mores bar for a movie night. Get creative with the arrangement of your veggies ~ there's plenty of inspiration on Pinterest!

Something for the Kids

If you are including kids in your shindig think of ways to keep them occupied and busy. Perhaps you have separate special places for them to sit and eat, fun games for them to safely play, chalk or art supplies, bubbles or building blocks - figure out what is age appropriate and keep them busy and entertained!


If parking is an issue around your home, make sure to give specific instructions for guests on where and how to park! No need for someone to stress before they step out of the car.

We hope we've inspired you to start your guest list and brainstorm how you can host the ultimate outdoor party at your house!

aerial layout that shows the pergola, patio, lounge area and dining table and plants

About Tilly

Tilly’s easy online landscape design process has been embraced by homeowners across the country and in Canada. Tilly breaks packages into the Front Yard, Backyard or your Full Yard. We match you with a professional landscape designer who is familiar with your region create the perfect custom plan for your outdoor space.

To start our process you’ll fill out a questionnaire about your property that helps our design team understand your goals, needs and existing landscape. You can add 3d renders, lighting plans or side yards to your design package. You’ll then “meet” with your designer on a video call, show them your space and discuss your priorities. Tilly also offers individual DIY projects, including a DIY Garden Bed if you aren’t ready to tackle your entire yard. 

Whether you are just looking to add some curb appeal or transform your entire backyard… Whether you’re in Texas, Florida, Colorado or Illinois - we have a team for you! 

Wherever you are in your journey, we can help.

Read more about: Landscape Design Tips